FPGA-based storage reference design doubles life of NAND flash

July 02, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Altera has developed a storage reference design, based on its Arria 10 SoCs, that claims to double the life of NAND flash and can increase the number of program-erase cycles by up to 7-times compared to current NAND flash implementations.

Arria SoCs – FPGAs with embedded CPUs – enable, Altera says, an innovative way to deploy storage in the cloud and high-performance computing systems. The reference design includes an Arria 10 SoC with an integrated dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, in an optimised, cost-effective, single-chip solution; the design uses a solid-state disc (SSD) controller from Mobiveil and NAND optimization software from NVMdurance. This reference design provides improved performance and flexibility in NAND utilisation while reducing the cost of the NAND array by increasing the lifetime of data centre equipment.

Altera adds that using FPGAs with integrated hard processor systems, designers can take advantage of the cost savings offered by next-generation NAND devices while retaining the flexibility to customise a solution that maximises the performance, durability and storage capacity of their system. This storage solution implements Mobiveil’s Universal NVM Express Controller (UNEX), a configurable controller for PCIe-based SSDs, and NVMdurance’s NAND flash optimization software in an Arria 10 SoC, enabling data centres to exploit the most advanced 3D NAND technology without the long design cycles required with ASIC designs.

In this reference design, Mobiveil’s controller supports multi-core architectures, enabling threads to run on each core with their own queue and interrupt without any locks required. NVMdurance’s NAND flash optimisation software constantly monitors the condition of the NAND flash and automatically adjusts the control parameters in real time, greatly extending the flash system’s endurance. The Altera reference design also features end-to-end data protection, encryption and compression, and optimises throughput and power consumption, in a small silicon footprint.

“Until now, it was not possible to make the economics of FPGA flash storage work,” said Robert Pierce, senior marketing manager, compute and storage business unit, Altera. “Our Arria 10 SoC-based solution will make architects rethink how storage is deployed in the cloud and in high-performance computing systems—opening up new ways to innovate and extend a company’s investment, while providing the fast time-to-market that